Tech Briefs

A comprehensive library of technical briefs from engineering experts at NASA and major government, university, and commercial laboratories covering all aspects of innovations in electronics, software, photonics, imaging, motion control, automation, sensors, test, materials, manufacturing, mechanical, and mechatronics.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Dedicated Deployable Aerobraking Structure

A dedicated deployable aerobraking structure concept was developed that significantly increases the effective area of a spacecraft during aerobraking by up to a factor of 5 or more (depending on spacecraft size) without substantially increasing total spacecraft mass. Increasing the effective aerobraking...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Portable Health Algorithms Test System

A document discusses the Portable Health Algorithms Test (PHALT) System, which has been designed as a means for evolving the maturity and credibility of algorithms developed to assess the health of aerospace systems. Comprising an integrated hardware-software environment, the PHALT system allows systems...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Technique for Performing Dielectric Property Measurements at Microwave Frequencies

A paper discusses the need to perform accurate dielectric property measurements on larger sized samples, particularly liquids at microwave frequencies. These types of measurements cannot be obtained using conventional cavity perturbation methods, particularly for...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Progress in Development of the Axel Rovers

Progress has been made in the development of a family of robotic land vehicles having modular and minimalist design features chosen to impart a combination of robustness, reliability, and versatility. These vehicles at earlier stages of development were described in two previous NASA Tech Briefs...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact, Lightweight Servo-Controllable Brakes

Compact, lightweight servo-controllable brakes capable of high torques are being developed for incorporation into robot joints. A brake of this type is based partly on the capstan effect of tension elements, which is described by the well known equation

Th/Tl =...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Robotic Arm Manipulator Using Active Control for Sample Acquisition and Transfer, and Passive Mode for Surface Compliance

A robotic arm that consists of three joints with four degrees of freedom (DOF) has been developed. It can carry an end-effector to acquire and transfer samples by using active control and comply with surface topology in a...

Briefs : Energy
Fish Schooling as a Basis for Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Farm Design

Most wind farms consist of horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs), but an alternative paradigm for wind energy extraction is found in vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) designs. A single spatially-isolated VAWT has a significantly lower power coefficient.

Briefs : Energy
Effects of Cerium Removal from Glass on Photovoltaic Module Performance and Stability
In recent years, better stabilizer formulations for ethylene vinyl-acetate have been developed, giving more confidence in the long-term stability of PV packaging materials. Because of this, some manufacturers have stopped using Ce-doped glass. National Renewable...
Briefs : Medical
Orthotic Dynamically Adjusts to Changes in Foot Structure and Movement

Kinesthotic© orthotics are made to adapt to the foot by replicating, within footwear, an explicit quality of beach-sand surface dynamics on whatever surface the footwear is used. The resulting support complies with the biomechanically sound and functional supportive...

Briefs : Medical
Reusable Personal Radiation Dosimeter for Ultraviolet or Radioactive Radiation

Radiation dosimeters are important for people working with radioactive isotopes, as in analytical research laboratories, in nuclear medical applications, in medical X-ray imaging, in nuclear power-stations, or in non-destructive testing of materials by ionizing...

Briefs : Medical
High-Altitude Hydration System

Three methods are being developed for keeping water from freezing during high-altitude climbs so that mountaineers can remain hydrated. Three strategies have been developed. At the time of this reporting two needed to be tested in the field and one was conceptual.

Briefs : Medical
Eye, Ear, and Skin Scope

A handheld, digitized ophthalmo scope, otoscope, or dermoscope takes digital images and video, and transmits the images to patients’ electronic medical records and/or to physicians for remote diagnosis. The device can be used for retinal (ophthalmoscopy), ear (otoscopy), or skin (dermatoscopy) imaging.

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Enhancing Tumor Drug Delivery by Laser-Activated Vascular Barrier Disruption

An obstacle to successful cancer drug therapy is the existence of drug delivery barriers, which result in insufficient and heterogeneous drug delivery to the tumor tissue. This drug delivery problem not only limits the clinical application of existing chemotherapeutics,...

Briefs : Medical
Fast, Quantitative Diagnostic Reader for Multiple Medical Tests

While most physicians have easy access to lab tests, those tests can be slow and expensive. Consumer versions of tests are inaccurate and have limited scope, and often involve sending a sample to a lab. Physicians, emergency rooms, EMTs, patients, visiting nurses, and caregivers may...

Briefs : Medical
Miniature Bioreactor System for Long-Term Cell Culture

A prototype miniature bioreactor system is designed to serve as a laboratory benchtop cell-culturing system that minimizes the need for relatively expensive equipment and reagents and can be operated under computer control, thereby reducing the time and effort required of human investigators...

Briefs : Medical
Fabrication and Modification of Nanoporous Silicon Particles

Silicon-based nanoporous particles as biodegradable drug carriers are advantageous in permeation, controlled release, and targeting. The use of biodegradable nanoporous silicon and silicon dioxide, with proper surface treatments, allows sustained drug release within the target site...

Briefs : Medical
Electrochemical Detection of Multiple Bioprocess Analytes

An apparatus that includes highly miniaturized thin-film electrochemical sensor array has been demonstrated as a prototype of instruments for simultaneous detection of multiple substances of interest (analytes) and measurement of acidity or alkalinity in bioprocess streams. Measurements...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Wirelessly Interrogated Wear or Temperature Sensors

Sensors for monitoring surface wear and/or temperature without need for wire connections have been developed. Excitation and interrogation of these sensors are accomplished by means of a magnetic-field-response recorder — an apparatus previously reported in “Magnetic-Field-Response...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Optical Pointing Sensor

The optical pointing sensor provides a means of directly measuring the relative positions of JPL’s Formation Control Testbed (FCT) vehicles without communication. This innovation is a steerable infrared (IR) rangefinder that gives measurements in terms of range and bearing to a passive retroreflector. Due to its reduced...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Processing Nanostructured Sensors Using Microfabrication Techniques

Standard microfabrication techniques can be implemented and scaled to help assemble nanoscale microsensors. Currently nanostructures are often deposited onto materials primarily by adding them to a solution, then applying the solution in a thin film. This results in random...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Radio-Frequency Tank Eigenmode Sensor for Propellant Quantity Gauging

Although there are several methods for determining liquid level in a tank, there are no proven methods to quickly gauge the amount of propellant in a tank while it is in low gravity or under low-settling thrust conditions where propellant sloshing is an issue. Having the...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
High-Temperature Optical Sensor

A high-temperature optical sensor (see Figure 1) has been developed that can operate at temperatures up to 1,000 °C. The sensor development process consists of two parts: packaging of a fiber Bragg grating into a housing that allows a more sturdy thermally stable device, and a technological process to which the...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Integral Battery Power Limiting Circuit for Intrinsically Safe Applications

A circuit topology has been designed to guarantee the output of intrinsically safe power for the operation of electrical devices in a hazardous environment. This...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Squeezing Alters Frequency Tuning of WGM Optical Resonator

Mechanical squeezing has been found to alter the frequency tuning of a whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) optical resonator that has an elliptical shape and is made of lithium niobate. It may be possible to exploit this effect to design reconfigurable optical filters for optical...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Configurable Multi-Purpose Processor

Advancements in technology have allowed the miniaturization of systems used in aerospace vehicles. This technology is driven by the need for next-generation systems that provide reliable, responsive, and cost-effective range operations while providing increased capabilities such as simultaneous mission...

Briefs : Software
Automated Computer Access Request System

The Automated Computer Access Request (AutoCAR) system is a Web-based account provisioning application that replaces the time-consuming paper-based computer-access request process at Johnson Space Center (JSC). AutoCAR combines rules-based and role-based functionality in one application to provide a...

Briefs : Software
Range Safety for an Autonomous Flight Safety System

The Range Safety Algorithm software encapsulates the various constructs and algorithms required to accomplish Time Space Position Information (TSPI) data management from multiple tracking sources, autonomous mission mode detection and management, and flight-termination mission rule evaluation....

Briefs : Software
Fast and Easy Searching of Files in Unisys 2200 Computers

A program has been written to enable (1) fast and easy searching of symbolic files for one or more strings of characters, dates, or numerical values in specific fields or columns and (2) summarizing results of searching other fields or columns. Intended for use in Unisys 2200-series...

Briefs : Software
Parachute Drag Model

DTV-SIM is a computer program that implements a mathematical model of the flight dynamics of a missile-shaped drop test vehicle (DTV) equipped with a multistage parachute system that includes two simultaneously deployed drogue parachutes and three main parachutes deployed subsequently and simultaneously by use of pilot...

Briefs : Software
Evolutionary Scheduler for the Deep Space Network

A computer program assists human schedulers in satisfying, to the maximum extent possible, competing demands from multiple spacecraft missions for utilization of the transmitting/receiving Earth stations of NASA’s Deep Space Network. The program embodies a concept of optimal scheduling to...

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